Memorial walk marks one year after Billie Johnson’s remains were discovered

Marless Johnson walked north of Edmonton along Highway 28 on Thursday, holding tightly on to a picture of her daughter Billie Johnson. The destination is Highway 803 near Morinville, Alta., where Billie’s remains were discovered one year ago.

“I never thought I would lose my child like this,” Marless said.

“It was almost four months to the day she went missing and then she was found.”

Read more: Sisters of Edmonton homicide victim Billie Johnson glad she can be laid to rest: ‘It is a huge relief’

Billie Johnson disappeared December 24, 2020. Community members began to search for her early 2021, digging through snow and walking through bush in the bitter cold.

The man accused in her death, Kenneth Courtorielle, is awaiting trial.

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A marker is now at the site where Billie’s body was found.

Read more: Justice rally held outside of Edmonton court for slain mother of 2

Marless gave a speech and wiped away tears as she spoke about her daughter on Thursday.

“She was beautiful. She was sunshine. She could make you laugh at the drop of a hat,” Marless said.

“She was crazy — she was like me, almost.”

Click to play video: 'Searching for Billie Johnson’s remains west of Edmonton' Searching for Billie Johnson’s remains west of Edmonton

Searching for Billie Johnson’s remains west of Edmonton – Feb 12, 2021

The walk is about more than grief. Marless wants to honour other families going through similar situations.

She invited Leanne Firingstoney to join the walk. Firingstoney’s daughter Chantelle was found dead November 2020. Ryan Jake Applegarth is awaiting trial in relation to Chantelle’s death.

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Read more: Alberta RCMP arrest 28-year-old man after death of Ponoka woman, 26

“It’s difficult trying to cope with it, because they are never coming back,” Firingstoney said.

“I was honoured to be asked to be here and I had a lot of mixed emotions, as a mother losing a child.”

Marless hopes to help others by starting a foundation in Billie’s name, by using her Cree name which translates to “Southern Wind.”

“While we were walking today, the southern wind was blowing at us, while we were going north.”

“The foundation is to help with issues I am facing and take initiative to help them to take initiative of their murder or missing loved ones.”

Marless Johnson wipes away tears at the site where her daughters remains were discovered on year ago. Sarah Komadina/ Global News
The markers at the site where Billie Johnson’s remains were discovered. Sarah Komadina/ Global News
Marker near where Billie Johnson’s remains were discovered. Sarah Komadina/ Global News
Group gathered at the site where Billie Johnson’s remains were discovered, April, 2021. Sarah Komadina/ Global News
A group walks along Highway 28 to honour Billie Johnson.

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